Origin: Cardamom is one of the world’s oldest and important spices. This spice has been in use for over 4000 years now. Ancient Egyptians believed using Cardamom for medicinal purposes. They also used it in religious ceremonies and for the embalming process. They kept chewing cardamom pods as it was a way to help keep their breath fresh and minty. It also helped in keeping their teeth clean.
The Greeks and Romans used Cardamom for its aroma. It was the main ingredient in perfumes and aromatic oils back then.
This spice was discovered by the Vikings during their travels. They also brought it back to Scandinavia.
Cardamom is believed to have originated in the Western Ghats in Southern India. The region in which these trees grew was also called Cardamom hills.
During the 19th century, plantations of cardamom were set up and managed by British colonists.
Guatemala is considered to be the biggest commercial producer of cardamom. It is even considered more valuable than coffee in Guatemala.
Scientifically: The word cardamom is derived from the early Greek words kardamon and amomon, which conjuncted to kardamomon, and in Old French, it was cardamome and in Latin cardamomum.
It is a spice made from the seeds of genera Elettaria and Amomum of the family Zingiberaceae. Cardamom was originally found in three verities. The two of them belong to genera of the ginger family which is green cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). It is also known as true cardamom and is very popular from India to Malaysia. The other variety is Amomum, which is mainly used in Asia and Australia and is also commonly known as black, brown, Java, Bengal, Siamese, white, or red cardamom. Kravan is also another word used for cardamom and is referred to as Kravan due to the Prasat Kravan or Cardamom Temple in Cambodia.
The cardamom plant usually rises to 1.5 to 6 meters (5 to 20 feet) from the roots. The branches are approximately 1 meter (3 feet) long, which may be upright or sprawling. Cardamom plant usually bears numerous flowers The flowers have greenish petals and a purple-veined white lip. The whole fruit is 0.8 to 1.5 cm in size and has green three-sided oval capsule containing 15 to 20 dark, reddish brown to brownish black, hard, angular seeds. Cardamom essential oil is also very useful and the oil content varies from 2 to 10 percent.
Usage: In earlier days, the cardamom was used to freshen breath, clear infection, and as a digestive aid. The essential oil was used in perfume. It is one of the important fragrant herbs in the kitchen. It is used for a variety of dishes from main courses and soups such as rice and curry, to desserts, drinks, and pastries.
The seeds and oil from the seeds are also used to make medicine.
It is great for digestion problems including heartburn, intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, liver and gall bladder complaints, and loss of appetite. It is also used for the common cold and other infections, cough, bronchitis, sore mouth and throat, urinary problems, epilepsy, headache, and high blood pressure.
It is also used in soaps, creams, and perfumes.
Below are some DIYs with Cardamom:
- Combine a teaspoon of cardamom powder with honey and apply on the acne. This spot treatment helps in clearing up the acne.
- Applying cardamom essential oil on the pulse points helps in calming the nerves.
- Take a few drops of cardamom essential oil and gently massage on the face. This helps in giving clearer complexion and reduces blemishes.
- Take 2-3 black cardamom and boil them with water. Let the water chill and later use it as a hair rinse after shampoo. This helps in removing any scalp infections and nourishes the hair.
- Take half a teaspoon of coarsely ground cardamom, a teaspoon of gram flour and some yogurt to make a paste. Apply this pack on the face for 5-7 minutes. Later, wash it off with scrubbing motion. This helps in removing dead skin.